Pawtucket Times

Birdwatche­rs flock to heron nesting spot

- By JOSEPH B. NADEAU jnadeau@woonsocket­

LINCOLN – Nanci Stankus of North Smithfield has been watching the Great Blue Heron rookery a few years now without ever seeing its occupants up close.

That because the nesting place for herons is located in the middle of a marsh situated at the Lincoln-Smithfield line on Route 116 to the west of North Central State Airport.

The spot is visible from the side of the road along the wetland but far enough away to require a good pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens to spot the majestic birds tending to the nests and their future offspring.

Stankus, 87, is not an experience­d birdwatche­r and has only seen the rookery’s inhabitant­s when stopping occasional­ly at the roadside viewing location where a few cars can be found from time to time.

“I think it’s been there for quite few years,” Stankus said of the rookery.

“I saw it for the first time two to three years ago and I was amazed that we have a rookery like that here in

Rhode Island,” the resident said.

Stankus noticed that there are a number of dead trees in the marsh and wonders if the wetland developed more recently for some reason. “I really don’t know whether the land turned swampy or was always there,” she said. As for the herons, they seem to be regulars, Stankus said. “My daughter Lori took me there last year and there were quite a few,” Stankus said. Recently at least ten heron nests could be counted in the trees still standing in the wetland and from time to time, one of the paired up birds would fly off in pursuit of food or nesting material while the other stayed on the nest. “I was over there a week ago and I counted three or four pairs of herons on their nest,” Stankus said.

“I thought it was quite interestin­g and I’d like to get a picture of it. You can’t miss it when you are there,” the resident said.

Over at the rookery, several people had that idea as well. One birdwatche­r brought along a long 500 millimeter lens that would surely get the photo Stankus had wanted.

The nesting spot is actually well known in the area, according to visitors stopped along the road watching the birds.

Photos taken of the rookery have even been posted in social media, they noted.

Carol Faria of Cumberland was found at the viewing spot with her son, Dan, and said she too knew about the spot for some time.

“I’m just trying to get a look at them,” Faria said.

Not a birder, Faria said she thought Great Blue Herons had very long legs and noted the birds across the wetlands didn’t seem to be standing up that tall.

Dan Faria was up from his home in Virginia and had taken his mom by to see the nesting birds and try to figure out what they were.

His mother noted that she used to live just up the road in Lincoln and had even taken photos of the wetlands for her family in the past.

“My son, David’s mother-in-law, Gail Sullivan, is a painter and she made a painting of it,” Faria noted.

Faria now has the painting at her home and it reminds her of the special place just off busy 116.

“It’s beautiful here,” Faria said as she watched the nesting Great Blue Herons.

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